Tuesday, December 27, 2011

`Anguish That Does Not Go Away - The Singles Problem

Taken from the Jewish Press-Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis,

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I am sure you get hundreds of letters a week regarding shidduchim. This letter is being penned by someone who is hoping to act as a representative on behalf of all the sad and lonely unmarried men and women in our society. I am hoping that if you share my message in whole or in part with our community it will have an effect, even if it be minute.

I am a very typical 30 something year old female, who attended typical Bais Yaakov type schools, who comes from a regular down to earth, frum – observant family, and who has an ordinary job that I go to day in and day out. I have a college degree and a master’s degree. Unfortunately, what I am missing is that I have not been blessed with finding my bashert – soul mate, yet.

Every day is very difficult for us singles, but perhaps the most painful are the Yom Tovim – the holidays – especially Yom Kippur. We hope, we daven and we dream that Hashem will answer our Tefillos – prayers and bring us only good things for the coming year. In order to make our dreams a reality, we unfortunately have to really rely on those around us to make it happen. Those close to us and those that are not. We network with anyone possible. I have emailed my personal information to so many people - an uncomfortable feeling in and of itself. More often than not, my calls are not returned, and the emails are not answered. Occasionally, I get “lucky” and someone will drop the name of an eligible guy, but then never do anything about it.. Would it be so terrible to expect that the person take an additional step and make that call? The waiting is torture.

I feel that WE – and I mean the entire Jewish community, do not do nearly as much for shidduchim as we should be doing. We all lead busy lives with many obligations, but how often do people put themselves out for others when it comes to shidduchim? And worse, how often do people commit to things and make promises and then proceed to forget about them. I have people who are close to me who have made New Year’s Resolutions and offered to help out with minor things like a follow up email or phone call to major projects like starting a shidduch group as a zechus – merit for me, but it never happens. We are about to celebrate Chanukah – life goes on and people are back to business as usual. I wonder how people can be so apathetic and never even give us singles a thought. We go to family simchas and are always labeled “the single relative”. We get through the Yom Tovim as “the single aunt”. I wonder how they can sleep comfortably at night knowing that we are suffering. I can tell you this – we singles have a hard time sleeping and getting up. I often wonder why people commit to helping if they have no intention of doing so. Why do they give hope only to dash it?

Our generation has become an “I” generation. People only have time to think of themselves, their own families and their own businesses? How about the next person? The neighbor, the relative and sadly, even the sibling? No one thinks..... No one seems to care. And now, I would like to point to an additional problem – the insensitivity, the hurtful remarks. Let me cite some examples:

This past Yom Kippur the Holiest day of the year, during the Rabbi’s speech right before Neilah (the closing prayer), someone came over to me in Shul to ask that I send my shidduch information.... she thought of someone appropriate for me. Wow, I thought, G-d is acting fast.

I followed up .... we are heading into winter, but I have yet to hear from her. Couldn’t she have called or at least e-mailed me? She picked me up only to drop me like a hot potato. Additionally, she took my time away during the last moments of Yom Kippur when I could have been saying Tehillim - Psalms. To accomplish what? To what end?

And then there are those who offer their sagacious advice and tell you “It’s time you got married”.. There are many more examples that I could cite. As I mentioned earlier, for us religious singles, the Yom Tovim – the holidays, are the most difficult to get through. Everyone is surrounded by their families, children and babies, while we stand alone. I overhear people whisper “She is such a rachmones (someone to be pitied). She must be in her thirties and still single. Very often, on the holidays, I opt out and stay at home. It is just too painful to go to shul, but staying home is not a happy solution either.

On one of these occasions, a neighbor’s married daughter knocked on my door to ask if I could watch her child at home while she went to shul with another of her children. I am not a high school teenager who babysits. Is she that clueless? Did it ever occur to her that I would do anything to take my own child to shul? And there have been many other similar situations. People take advantage, and just because they invite me to a Shabbos Seudah, they expect me to baby sit or pick up their kids at the bus stop. I often wonder what has become of us. How have we lost our chesed? I know that many of your readers will flip the page now and think to themselves, “ One of those shidduch articles again!” It takes too much time out of their busy schedules to even read about our pain and loneliness.

Are we not supposed to be “Rachmonim U B’nei Rachmonim? “Compassionate ones and the children of compassionate ones... sensitive to the suffering of others and careful of how we speak to them? Is it too much to ask for people to take a moment to make a phone call or send an e-mail?

To all the people reading this letter, permit me to make some suggestions.

It is admirable and noble to want to help with shidduchim, but be serious! Don’t name drop names because you want to feel that it shows you are doing something. Unless you have a concrete plan or serious information don’t talk about it. If you do mention someone, follow up and get back to the single person. Don’t leave anyone hanging. Your life might not be dependent on it, but ours is!

As tempting as it might sound, don’t volunteer to do something or make calls or start a program unless you are serious and prepared to put it into work. Think through what you are offering before you actually offer it. Empty offers are painful.

Spend time and network with everyone you know. You can’t imagine how many potential shidduchim can be made by just asking everyone if they know someone. Don’t let opportunities pass by. Network with your friends, its simple with emails and text messages. Bring it up at a table at a simcha, or after davening inshul, call relatives you don’t see, find a friend in an out of town community and network, network, network.

Think over and over before asking a single person to baby-sit. Precisely because they don’t have children, your request is that much more painful...and this is important – don’t imagine that because we are not married, we do not have a life and have nothing to do.

Thank you Rebbetzin for sharing this letter. I am not so naive as to think that the tide will be turned through this letter, but perhaps by reading my words, some people will take it to heart, and if just one single person is spared further pain, and just one person makes just one call for ashidduch connection, it will have been worthwhile for me to write.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Suggesting a Shidduch-Chofetz Chaim


Day 85 – Suggesting a Shidduch: The Balance

In light of the prohibition of misleading one’s fellow (see Days 79-80), one may be reluctant to suggest shidduchim (marriage matches) altogether; others may feel it necessary to mention every possible shortcoming of the person so as not to be guilty of misrepresenting the truth.

Few acts of chesed (kindness) can compare with that of helping to build a Jewish home. One who thinks that a certain young man may be a suitable match for a certain young woman is not responsible to investigate the two and their families before proposing the match. That is the responsibility of the parties involved and their parents.

However, the prohibition against misleading one’s fellow requires that one not suggest a shidduch unless:

(1) He believes that given what he knows of their personalities, the two could be a good match, and he is unaware of any reason the relationship should cause pain to either one.

(2) In his opinion, there is reason to believe that their meeting will ultimately result in an engagement. (It is wrong to waste a person’s time, energy and emotions!)

(3) He is not aware of any medical, emotional, or character deficiency that would render one party unfit for marriage.

(4) He does not feel that either party will have a negative influence upon the other.

(5) He is not aware that one party lacks something that the other is insistent upon, or has something to which the other has explicitly expressed strong objection.

Should there be any doubt as to whether any of these conditions have been met; the counsel of a talmid chacham (a very learned person) should be sought.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The 2-date minimum

Being an out-of-towner, whenever I come to NY or the boy's city for a date, most shadchanim will ask for a 2-date minimum, meaning the guy has to agree to atleast 2 dates. I sorta agree and disagree with this.
For one, I guess it is polite and well-mannered to atleast show that you are willing to give it a second try (unless something is terribly wrong with the date/girl/guy, or obviously not shayach at all after date #1) and at the same time, usually when someone is traveling, they stay for atleast more than one day and being that the purpose they are traveling is solely for dating, its sorta an understandable thing to do.
I've been asked the same when boys come to my town to date.
I disagree with the fact that sometimes, when its a clear "no" after date #1, going out again would clearly be leading the other party on and make them think you are interested when really you are not. I've always felt bad about this, especially when the guy knows NO ONE in my town and so if the Shadchan really bothers me about this, I clearly say that I don't mind taking him out, showing him around town, etc. but as long as he knows I'm not interested-that's when the Shadchan usually turns my offer down.
Last week, my good friend Shaindy went to NY. It was a really long trip and she went out with the guy on a first date. She came back and was waiting to hear if there was going to be another date the next day or if she should arrange to take the next bus/train/flight/ride back. Either way, she was sorta in limbo for 1-2 hours waiting to hear back from the shadchan, and with time ticking by in regards to last minute reservations either for travel, or for work.
FINALLY, the shadchan called her. This is a 2-date minimum shadchan. She also told Shaindy that she HAS TO travel for this boy as no one says "no" to him and he has a list and cannot wait even 3 days for her to travel. In any case, the shadchan just told her that the boy said it wasn't for him.
Needless to say, Shaindy actually though the guy was soo polite and mentchlech, she didn't even get the impression he wasn't interested, but with 1 hour left to catch the last flight/train/bus/ride out, she quickly tried to arrange her schedule.
So, do I think he was right in not going on a 2nd date in this case? Yes, atleast he was polite and the date was pleasant and he didn't lead her on or make her waste another day of work/travel, knowing he wasn't interested. Would it have killed him to take her out again? absolutely not, but what would that accomplish?

I think that shadchanim should establish a 2 hour Maximum-which means that after a date ends, both parties have 2 hours MAX to call the shadchan with their decision, especially when its with out-of-towners, so they know where they stand and so they can make whatever arranegments are necessary, instead of waiting in limbo and not knowing what to do.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The 'Drei-Kopp' Shadchan

So there's this shadchan who used to be big time into making shidduchim when I started dating, then eventually, other Shadchanim got more popular and this shadchan sorta faded into extinction.
Recently she called me up to let me know she was 'back in action' and by doing so, was getting more updated with time and even set herself up online with email. She asked me to send her my updated info.
I havta admit, when she called me, I was totally unprepared and my past dealings with this shadchan had really made me lose patients with her, she's the type to drive you up a wall, or as I like to say a 'drei kopp' with minor stupidities, etc. and doesn't get the hint even if you have a huge light up billboard in her face. So Basically, she then started asking me all these technical questions, which after a few minutes, I realized to understand, she didn't know how to use internet. I was beginning to get really frustrated and made some kinda excuse that I had to leave and promised to send my info.
Thank goodness she found a tutor, or maybe someone checked her emails and she received my resume. But no, folks, this was not good enough for her.
She emailed/called/left messages that my resume was not up to par with her standards. Yes-you heard me. After years of being in the system and on the market I had been told by numerous people/shadchanim/friends how to change my resume. Of course, there were those who thought it was really well-written and gave a totally clear picture as to who I was and my personality type. There were those who thought it was TMI (too much info) and asked me to keep it basic, etc.
This Shadchan took EACH word I had written and nitpicked at it. She criticized each and every word I used-literally. I sat and listened to her patiently, but that only lasted for the first 10 minutes. Honestly-I was ready to tell her to just leave me alone and that she was incompetent and that for the past few years I had been sending the same resume (updating my age with each coming year) and NO ONE seemed to have issues with it and I was set up with decent guys, contrary to what she believed I would be set up with-based on my resume. But I remained polite and found some kinda measly excuse to hang up the phone.
OK, so you think she would sorta get the hint, right?
Nopes, not this Shadchan
Again, she called me and informed me that the way I wrote it, again nit-picking the terms I used, was totally misleading and people would understand that I would need such-and-such type of guy which is clearly not what I was looking for, etc. seriously?! Yes, she was serious! So, I told her in a very kind manner, that this is how I wrote it. She came out and asked me straight if she can change things on my resume. I just said-how I sent it, is how I'd like it to be sent further but anyone was free to do whatever they want with it-it's outta my hands whatever she does.
Well, peoples, I don't know what else can be done to salvage this situation, but to say that 'drei-kopps' will always remain 'drei-kopps' and I did my hishtadlus and tried to remain at ease and polite. After all, like she explained to me on the phone, her job is to just GET ME MARRIED. I mean, she didn't say happily married, or satisfied with my bashert-just marry me off and get her $$$.
HHmmmppphhh! Why does shidduchim have to always be so frustrating! Can't this madness end?!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Question of Class/Manners

I sorta need an opinion on the following. It has happened to me numerous times on dates and I always come home feeling like I don't know if I did the 'right' thing or not. I don't honestly believe there is a right or wrong to this situation, but I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this.
You go on a date and the guy takes you to a Starbucks. On the date, or in line at the coffee shop you discuss the different options, whose the coffee drinker, and of course, the all-important cholov yisroel or not question. The guy says he only drinks cholov yisroel and orders either a tea, or soy drink, or something which doesn't have an issue with the milk. The girl, aka, me, keeps cholov stam and can drink anything with regular milk, or OU-D or OK-D, so technically she can order a whole lot more.
Is it not good manners to order something cholov stam, which the guy cannot order? Is it polite to ask if he minds if you order cholov stam? Should you just smile politely and order plain black coffee with a shot of (pareve) flavor?
I usually just go with my cholov stam options, but that's cuz I'm such a coffee shop addict. But then I feel like I'm sitting there with my fancy frappe/moccacchino/latte and the guy is drinking this pathetic, dull, plain black coffee or worse-TEA!
What would you do and what do you feel is the polite/sensitive/well-mannered/proper way to handle this?